2014 has been the year I stopped finding – finding myself, the right job, the right guy, my true purpose in life etc. – and started building. Having gotten my flat and finally my driving license (to those who are still in school, please get it asap because life will only get impossibly busier after graduation), I can’t help but draw parallels between the two and conclude that finding love is very much like looking for a parking lot.
It doesn’t matter how early you arrive. You could be waiting for the longest time and some other car comes along later, but just happens to be at the right place and right time – when a lot gets vacated. At that moment, nobody’s gonna care how good your driving skills are, or what brand of car you drive (I’m not talking about the superficial kind here). Although sometimes, practice makes perfect. Like when you chance upon a parallel parking lot. It’s a good spot, but you may decide to pass on because you’re not confident enough of your own skills. When you do muster the courage to try, you end up holding up traffic with a queue of impatient drivers honking behind. It’s easy to give up and drive away. But don’t.
Don’t be complacent too. Or indecisive. It feels bloody damn good parking in the middle of both lots, but that feeling won’t last. It will come back to haunt you in the form of a parking ticket or worse still, having your car towed away.
In many ways, I guess the same principles apply to life. Timing is key – yet there’s never a ‘right time’ for anything. The best time is (always) now. When I turned 26, all sorts of people were telling me that it’s the ‘best year’ for everything:
“Now is the best time to start your own business. Opportunity costs are low – your pay check is not too enticing and your liabilities have not yet set in: mortgages, car loans, kids…”
“But there’s never been a better time to chiong and build your career. Young people’s brains are like sponges, they learn things more quickly. When you start having kids, you need to slow down liao.”
“If you wanna drop everything and travel the world, do it now – while you have enough energy to experiment with novelty and enough youth to get away with most things.”
“Actually, you should aim to have children as early as possible. The best time is now – while your body is still strong and fit. Also, can be a hot momma’ and retire early!”
It dawned on me that life’s possibilities are endless and there is no particular correct answer – for when to do what. I could choose whichever path I wanted.
This realisation is pretty new to me. After all, I’ve been used to having a right time for everything: step-up on band rehearsals just before concerts, intensive PTs when touch rugby competitions are near, 100% cramming before midterms (but 0% during term times) and an unconditional, abundance of freedom during summer break.
I once prided myself on my multi-tasking skills – but heck, those days weren’t multi-tasking at all. There had been a set time for everything. In the real world, you can’t really build your career for 25 years, travel for another 5 years and have kids in the last 20 years. Life isn’t a series of sprints, but a full marathon whereby you’re required to juggle some tennis balls while you clock the distance (and keeping an eye on the clock). But people have done it. It’s always inspiring to personally meet people who excel in the their full-time careers, are loving mothers, hard partygoers, world-class marathoners, dedicated volunteers, avid travellers, successful part-time entrepreneurs… the list goes on. You don’t always have to give up one thing or another. It’s about a daily accumulation of effort.
So I’m basing my 2015 philosophy on two simple things:
1. A little progress daily makes all the difference a year from now
I saw the above equation from the internet and was struck by the powerful message it put across. It compares where we end up if you improve by 1% every day instead of regressing by 1% every day. I’ve stuck this in front of my desk as a daily reminder.
2. There’s no ‘right’ time for anything in life
Stop questioning whether it’s the right time to do this, or do that. I used to think that one should master the rules before breaking them, but I’ve figured they’re all set by humans who may not be consistently rational anyway. As long as things don’t make sense, change the rules.
There’s no right time for anything. Just do whatever feels right. And working on it every day – no matter how little will go a long way.
Have an amazing 2015, everyone.
This article was written by Woo Pei Xun, an aspiring travel blogger who interchanges between her office heels and Salomon runners. Fuelled by annual marathons, quarterly getaways, monthly KPIs and daily coffee. Follow her adventures at ladyexplorer.com or on Instagram @woopeixun.
Some images were added for visual effect.